Undergraduate Students as Instructional Assistants
Undergraduate Instructional Assistants (also known as Peer Instructors) play an important and integral role in the success of UK’s undergraduate students. In some ways, Undergraduate Instructional Assistants (UIAs) function in a similar way to UK’s graduate student Teaching Assistants in that they are mentored by their faculty or teaching staff instructor and they are expected to spend some of the class instructional contact hours in leading activities or discussions. Peer Instructors are undergraduate student leaders who are expected to be:
- Organized, yet flexible to meet the demands of adapting for student success;
- Knowledgeable of the course content, and yet not offer to be a subject matter expert (that’s the role of the course instructor);
- Responsible, yet always connecting with the course instructor when something seems to have awry; and,
- Compassionate, yet not let empathy for their peers to get in the way of what each enrolled student is expected to do on their own.
Any faculty or teaching staff who teach undergraduate courses are encouraged to include peer instructors as part of their course design strategies. This is an important way for our undergraduate students to gain leadership experience and to enrich their own academic careers. Peer instruction is a valuable enhancement of leadership, communication, and presentation skills for students from any academic major.
Those who choose to use peer instructors in their classes should consult first with the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education to assure that they are following UK policies. This discussion should include a review of stated expectations, types of training workshop(s), and evaluations for peer instruction.